How big is Israel really, its present borders notwithstanding?
The other day, in a televised discussion on Israel’s occupation of and settlement-building activity in a particular part of the geographic region referred to as Palestine that is claimed by both the Jewish state as well as its less recognized Arab neighbor, one of the participants—who, I suppose, would be characterized as a hardline “Zionist” by his detractors—held up what he described as an ancient Hebrew coin allegedly dredged up during the construction of said settlements in the disputed territory and presented it as evidence that Jews had been there first and that it was impossible to “occupy” what is yours to begin with.
In other words, that, when it comes to the construction of Israeli settlements in Palestine, the Arabs ought to recognize that they’re encroaching on Jewish soil, not the other way around.
Like many casual observers of the perennial imbroglio known as the Arab-Israeli conflict, I am itching to take sides, yet this conflict strikes me as the textbook example of a situation where confusion grows proportionally with exposure to information rather than the latter abating the former.
Perhaps because I’ve spent my whole life in areas of the globe strongly informed by Judeo-Christian ways—and also in light of the unspeakable horrors not so long ago wrought upon the Jewish people by my mustachioed Austrian compatriot and his merry band of genocidal lunatics—my initial inclination is to side with Israel.
However, Israeli spokespeople like the aforementioned individual with his dopey little dug-up coin contribute little to assuring me that Israel resides anywhere near the right side of this struggle.
Oh the other hand, the often muted condemnation by the Arab world of terrorist acts along the line of lobbing missiles into Israel or blowing up commuter buses in Haifa does little to endear me to the Arab cause.
Then again, given its military prowess, a country like Israel, of course, has no need to resort to petty terrorism.
In general, what we refer to as “terrorism” has historically been the preserve of those deprived of the luxury of conventional armed forces to cow their surroundings into submission via its deterrent effect or to do the dirty work for them under the guise of legitimacy.
In the absence of periodic violence against soft targets in Israel, would the world at large be paying even a flick of attention to the plight of Palestinians?
And what’s with all those Palestinian refuge camps anyway? Do these people deliberately decline to live under more desirable conditions simply as an expression of protest against Israel (“Look, world, what those evil Zionists are doing to us!”), are they too benighted to relocate—or, if need be, construct habitable towns and cities of their own—or could it be that external powers keep throwing sticks into the spokes of any efforts on their part to improve their wretched lot?
As a thought experiment, how might Americans react if the international community suddenly voted to install an independent Comanche nation smack in the heart of the American Southwest, comprising swaths of Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Colorado, and Oklahoma, thus wresting a sizable chunk of territory from U.S. control and either making feel unwelcome or outright displacing large numbers of its non-native American denizens that had no hand in the original exodus of Comanches from the land the latter used to inhabit many moons ago?
What if this new Comanche nation were armed and backed by the mega-superpower of Klingonistan, against whose military thews the modern U.S. seemed as if equipped but with sticks, pebbles, and slingshots?
And what if, upon the establishment of this new Comanche nation, its leaders felt it was too small to accommodate its growing population, or smaller than Manitou had ordained, or both, whereupon bulldozers and constructions crews were being deployed into surrounding areas in order to build new settlements with the intention of eventually incorporating those regions into Comancheland?
Flawed as this analogy might be in some respects—all analogies are flawed, or else they wouldn’t be analogies but the thing itself—it doesn’t appear too wide off the mark in others, especially with respect to the difficulty of assigning a black&white-style good guys vs. bad buys status to either party in the dispute.
In 2012, the United Nations approved the “de facto recognition” of Palestine as a sovereign state.
Needless to say, Israel’s brass seemed none too pleased with this development. After all, the Israeli point of view has always been that parts of Palestine rightfully belong to Israel, and international recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state will obviously make it more difficult for Israel to expand so as to ultimately encompass the entire region set forth by Yahweh as their Promised Land.
Here’s the fundamental get-down-to-brass-tacks question I’ve never heard being asked nor answered in as point-blank a fashion as I believe would aid the undecided observer in understanding the heart of the conflict:
Every person, especially leaders like Netanyahu, in favor of the expansion of Israel via the construction of settlements outside of Israel’s officially recognized borders ought to be handed a map of the Middle East and a red marker with which he or she would then outline the borders of the Promised Land on the map so as to clearly mark the entire region that, in his or her mind, Israel couldn’t technically “occupy” for it rightfully comprises Israel in all its glory as decreed in the Old Testament (or whatever the source of the notion that Israel has divinely ordained borders at all).
No point, I think, in handing a map and a marker to most Arabs with the request that they outline the territory that, in their view, rightfully comprises the Jewish state.